The organiser of the Tour o’ the Borders cycling sportive held over closed roads on Sunday has blasted alleged thugs he blames for spoiling an otherwise-succesful event.
According to reports from competitors, the event, sponsored by Tesco Bank, took a terrifying turn for the worse when two men, dressed in tweeds and flat caps, attacked the first tranche of riders with sticks, hitting their heads and their bikes.
The pair, believed to be protesting about the closing of the roads at harvest time, had disappeared by the time a police motorbike arrived at the scene – a few hundred metres south of the junction of the A701 and B712 Stobo road south of Broughton.
That alleged incident, says event director Neil Dalgleish, marred what was otherwise an excellent day for the 2,0o0 riders who had travelled to take part in the event from as far afield as Australia, Canada, the US, Russia, Belgium and Switzerland.
He said: “Tour o’ the Borders was a fantastic success this year, and for once the weather was kind too.
“The riders had a fabulous time, and we’ve had countless thanks for the organisation, route quality, scenery and for all the friendly marshals and volunteers.
“Our cycling visitors know the Borders is a place they are welcome and where the quality of the cycling and events is second to none, so I think a truly special day was marred by some thugs, some idiots.
“Their behaviour is disgusting, and they are a disgrace to the whole of the Borders, let alone their own local communities.
“We have to make it clear that this kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable. It could have caused serious injuries or worse.
“If anyone knows who was responsible please get in touch with us or, better, the police directly. We really need to find out who was responsible and make sure this kind of thing never happens again.
“Cycle tourism is one of very few sectors bringing new jobs and economic growth to this region, and we can’t let that good news story be threatened by a few numbskulls who think having a road closed for a few hours once a year is justification for assault and violence.
“That’s just not what the Borders is all about.”
Mr Dalgleish said he was told that at least one rider had been forced off his bike and had to be taken to hospital.
A spokesperson for Police Scotland said: “We can confirm that we are aware of protests at the event, and we are investigating.
“So far, however, no one has told us of any injury. If someone has an injury, they should tell us, so that we can investigate.”
Some competitors took to the event’s Facebook page to give their accounts of what happened.
One said: “Two people that looked like farmers wearing tweed jackets and flat caps – one had a dog – were hitting the cyclists on their heads with long sticks.”
Another wrote: “We were well supported by 99.99% of the local communities. However, I have to say that at one point on the ride, we were attacked by two local men with sticks standing in the middle of the road hitting cyclists and their bikes.
“It was a totally appalling, unprovoked attack which spoiled the day.
“Hopefully, something will be done and these two idiots will be brought to justice in some way.”
Another said: “That actually happened to a load of us. I’m not too sure if anyone got hurt. They were walking in the middle of road towards cyclists, each with two sticks holding them out.
“I had to stop, but hopefully nobody got hurt by them.”
In recent years, farmers have expressed concerns at not being able to move between their fields at harvest time due to cycling events.
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